That which was portrayed in "I, Claudius", which until Rome was probably the best TV series ever about the period. Of course its production values aren't anything near Rome, considering it's from the 70s, shot on video and only had modest BBC budgets, but the acting is simply top-notch, with Derek Jacobi in the title role, Brian Blessed as Augustus, John Hurt as Caligula (and a much younger Patrick Stewart too). "I, Claudius" starts at the tail-end of Augustus's long reign, and goes through the next three emperors, therefore dealing with the rest of the Claudio-Julian dynasty that started Imperial Rome (as opposed to Rome's potrayal of the end of Republican Rome). So for those who've gotten into Roman history via Rome and want more, may I suggest I, Claudius? Just don't be disappointed at how it looks, substance truly does trump form in this instance.